Tea has been a huge part of the culture in China for thousands of years. As such, tea has generated its own set of unique and particularly wonderful traditions. We’d like to share some interesting things that we’ve researched about Chinese tea culture with you, so make sure to read on to find out more!
Respect plays a large part in a number of historical Chinese customs, and this can be seen in many facets of life – from language to tea.
Historically, members of the younger generation were expected to show respect to older generations by offering them a cup of tea – whether that was in their home or in a restaurant. Going out for a cup of tea with an elder member of your family is seen as a holiday tradition that is practiced down to this day. In that vein, newly married couples serve tea to elder members of their now combined families.
Looking back through time, poorer people were typically expected to serve tea to the upper classes as a sign of respect. However, as times are changing, so are many of these ancient traditions.
Gong Fu Cha
Gong Fu is a particularly popular tea ceremony in China. As opposed to quickly downing a large cup of tea, Gong Fu Cha is a ritual that takes time and skill and is beautiful to watch. The amount of tea used, as well as the water temperature are carefully monitored to fully open up the taste of the tea. Small traditional clay teapots and cups also play a part in the taste and temperature of the tea. The ceremony can be done in your own home for personal enjoyment, or to welcome a guest. In many Chinese households, it is served after a meal to aid digestion. From beginning to end, this ancient process of brewing tea creates a calming atmosphere where we can fully enjoy each sip of tea.
Depending on which region of China the tea is made in, the brewing process, as well as the tools used during the brewing process will be different. As an example, let’s look at Taiwanese style gongfu cha. This method of making tea includes a number of additional instruments, including tweezers and a tea strainer. The tea of choice is typically some form of oolong tea, which is very popular in China. However, depending on the tastes of the person making the tea, a fermented tea may be used, such as pu’erh.
Loose Leaf Tea In China
Tea has long been grown and cultivated in China. Since it grows naturally there and has been exported and enjoyed worldwide for decades.
During the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644 CE), bricks of tea were replaced by loose leaf tea. While this isn’t a strange thing now, it certainly was at the time! Back then, tea was processed into large bricks or bars, small portions of which were shaved off with a knife, to be steeped in a pot.
The process of making the bricks, however, was quite labour-intensive before the industrial revolution. Therefore, loose leaf tea was encouraged in order to make life a little easier for tea farmers, and that type of tea has been used since. It is now the most common type of tea used in China, with everyone having a favorite, unique, blend or brand.